Essential training for After Effects designers


Over the last few years, I've travelled across five continents, training many professional broadcast After Effects designers, and a constant among them is the wide use of Red Giant Trapcode Particular to create sparkles, fire, rain, snow and general visual flourishes.

Although I've been using Particular for many years, I'm still learning new techniques all the time, and this is particularly true of Harry Frank's new Particular training series

As well as showing fast ways to produce classic mograph techniques (including things like text dissolving into particles), he dives into the technical side of particle systems, with extremely useful techniques for improving the speed of your renders in Particular. I can't recommend these tutorials more highly.

What's more, this training is free.

Premiere Pro Workflows at the 2016 EUROs

Here's the presentation that I made together with Jan Fröhling from Moovit at IBC2016 about the Premiere Pro workflows we used on this year's FIFA EURO Championships.

We had the challenge of helping the editors produce multiple deliverables in a tight timeframe, which was achieved with the help of Helmut, a custom tool developed by Moovit, for automating import setup, export and QA processes.

The presentation explains the integration with Premiere Pro, together with production techniques used on site, and here are some details about the editing setup in Paris:

  • 24 teams / 51 matches / 10 venues
  • onsite support team for 10 weeks
  • EVS infrastructure integration
  • AVCIntra 100  1080i50 delivery
  • multiple ENG crews / 4K UAV coverage
  • wide range of source codecs
  • 40x Z840/440 high-end workstations
  • fast turnaround workflows / short delivery times
  • deep integration with Adobe CC


Simon Walker discusses the post-production workflows he has helped build for some of the largest professional soccer events in the world, all based around Premiere Pro CC as the hub.




UEFA EURO 2016 - Inside the IBC

In the summer of 2016, I spent May to July in Paris at the International Broadcast Centre, providing training and edit support for Adobe workflows and techniques for the UEFA EURO 2016 Champtionships. 

Here's a great article, with details about the technical delivery:

Inside the dynamic IBC operation at Porte de Versailles



Save time while monitoring effects settings in Adobe Premiere Pro CC

In the 2015 release of Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Adobe introduced the Lumetri Color panel, which allows for fast methods of applying colour corrections and adjustments to clips. But the underlying method by which it does this is also really useful for previewing settings applied to individual clips. 

When you open the Lumetri Color panel, Adobe Premiere Pro CC automatically invokes the Selection Follows Playhead function from the Sequence menu. This means that clips under the playhead are automatically selected and any Lumetri Color panel adjustments are applied to the selected clip, avoiding the need to manually apply that filter to the clip.

A happy byproduct of this technique is that the settings of the currently selected clip are automatically displayed in the Effects Control panel. This helps to avoid situations where you have the playhead located over one clip while you are editing the filter or effects settings of a different clip. It also allows you to see all effects and filters applied to the currently selected clip, not just the Lumetri Color effects.

This makes it extremely efficient at automatically monitoring which effects are applied to individual clips, including adjustment layers. By simply dragging the playhead along the timeline, or using the arrow keys to jump between clips, the need to manually click on clips to select them is eliminated.

You don’t have to be using the Color workspace to do this, as you can switch on the Selection Follows Playhead function at any time from the Sequence menu. I have set up a custom keyboard shortcut (ALT+S) to toggle this function on and off, depending on which task I am currently performing.

Combining this technique with a custom panel setup that shows the Effects Control Panel alongside your other favorite panels reduces the need for additional mouse clicks and can really help to speed up the editing process. It also accelerates your ability to add a master effect to the clip, which you can do via the Effects Control panel, without having to first locate it in the Project panel.

(Originally posted on the G-Technology blog page

Legal luma and chroma levels in Premiere Pro CC 2015

When working with broadcasters, legalising (legalizing!) always comes up as a pressing topic. 

In my experience, Premiere Pro’s Video Limiter effect has proven very useful as a method to keep luma and chroma levels legal for broadcast. It’s a much (much)better tool than Broadcast Colors. In fact Adobe think so too, as they’ve removed the Broadcast Colors effect from the CC2015 release!

“The Broadcast Colors effect has been deprecated in Premiere Pro CC 2015 in favor of the Video Limiter effect. It is provided in CC 2015 only to preserve the effect when opening older projects which used the effect, but new instances of it cannot be applied. Definitely check out Video Limiter as it's more capable and robust, and has GPU accelerated capabilities.”

Video Limiter is only really meant to catch stray illegal pixels, and isn’t a replacement for properly colour correcting the clips, which is the best method to manage luma and chroma levels. However, I do think there is a place for a legalising check, especially if you’re on a deadline, and I’ve seen it used successfully on time sensitive projects.

The trick to getting a good result out of Video Limiter is to set the Reduction Axis parameter to Chroma and Luma, rather than the default setting of Smart Limit. It’s also useful to apply the effect to an adjustment layer, set to the duration of the sequence. Video Limiter is a Mercury Playback accelerated effect, and therefore GPU enabled, so it won’t slow down playback or final output.

One thing that’s worth noting is that if you’re dealing with bright saturated colours the limiter can affect the final colour output, so be prepared to adjust the Chroma Max setting to compensate. 

On sport productions I’ve been involved with, I’ve found that the Chroma Max default setting of +130% can display an RGB gamut error on the scopes, and reducing this to around 100% removes the error (which is one of the techniques we used at the World Cup in Rio last year). However it also can desaturate the brightest colors. Whilst this will give a reliable result in most cases, it’s important to keep an eye on those bright orange and red saturated colours which turn up on football shirts and racing cars (yes, I’m looking at you Netherlands and Ferrari).

UPDATE: Sept 2015

Adobe's reveal at IBC2015 of the forthcoming features soon to be added to Premiere Pro, includes the addition of the Video Limiter in the Effects tab of the export settings dialog, allowing you access to the same settings as the main filter itself.

This means you will be able to catch those stray illegal pixels on export. The caveat is that you'll need to check the exported video, although you do get a nice visual indication of how the Video Limiter will affect the output, and you can see how it affects different frames by scrubbing the playhead in the output preview window.

As mentioned above this is, of course, not designed to be used as a substitute for correcting clips on the timeline, but can be handy if you have to deliver legal levels when editing and outputting on a fast turnaround.

Originally posted at: Legal luma and chroma levels in Premiere Pro CC 2015


How to save your eyes. And brain.


It hurts to look at my phone. It hurts to not look at it.

Like most people addicted to their smart phones, I have an extremely bad habit of ‘just checking’ my phone just before I go to sleep. Four hours later.

I have an equally bad habit of shutting off the phone alarm in the morning, and squint-reading every single update that has been posted in the last 8 hours.

This leaves my eyes perpetually sore and sensitive to bright lights. And screens. Many articles online tell me just how bad this is for my brain, as well as my eyes:

Smartphones Ruin More Than Your Sleep — They May Also Be Destroying Your Vision

Why the light from your smartphone is keeping you up at night, & what to do about it

Avoiding late night screen usage isn’t always an option. Sometimes, you have a crazy client deadline, or it suits your body clock to work late. 

The latest issue of Wired talks about being aware of the chemistry of your body to find the best time of day to be productive for different types of tasks (although I’m not sure I could get away with a nap in front of the client!). And many people have different circadian rhythms, often depending on age:

My 21 year old son likes to research and write late at night and can find the small hours more creative, whereas by that time I can’t keep my eyes open. Except to watch TV and waste time on the internet, obviously.

So, if I have to ‘work late’, I find that using f.lux on my MacBook Pro hugely reduces eyestrain:

Reduce Eye Strain and Get Better Sleep by Using f.lux on Your Computer

I’m just waiting for f.lux to be available for the iPhone and iPad (without jailbreaking - something my son may or may not have experience with). 

Or, even better, developing more disciplined bedtime habits.

Having time for coffee, and how I fell in love with SSD and ExFAT

Every time I prepare to train a class of editors, I seem to discover another interesting project that would be great to share with them, and include in the training files. And of course those files need to be transferred onto their computers, typically ahead of time.

Gone are the days when I could dump the training content onto a small USB stick first thing in the morning, and whiz around the computers, transferring files whilst the trainees arrived.

These days I have well over 20GB of sample files, tutorials and useful projects that can be referred to long after the class is over. Which means... getting to the training location the night before, or ridiculously early in the morning, just to have time to transfer all the files.

And more and more, trainees are turning up on the day with their own laptops, meaning elongated introductions and coffee time whilst I transfer files. This is why I've been using G-Tech ev drives (I'm getting around 130MB/s transfer speed), to reduce the transfer time.

Until now...

Several weeks ago I took delivery of the G-DRIVE SSD ev drive, and just stared unbelievingly at the transfer speed... 

Being able to transfer over 20GB of files in about a minute via USB3 onto a 2013 MacBook Pro Retina (in my tests it achieved almost 400 MB/s) makes the start of the training day significantly easier. Especially when you have up to 10 attendees, and you need to transfer material onto all their machines). 

Also, re-formatting the drive to ExFAT means that whether delegates turn up with a Windows or Mac machine, I don't have carry duplicate drives in various formats, just to be able to transfer files.

And these days, training Premiere Pro means training on both Windows and Mac simultaneously, with the same files, as PPro performs on both platforms almost identically (allthough there are a few things to consider when transferring a project between platforms).

I know I could save time by pre-loading material onto multiple drives and carrying these around with me everywhere I go, but as I travel extensively for work, it can be lots of fun* just watching whilst airport security slowly unpacks your bag and asks why you have so many drives in your hand-luggage.

(*not fun at all)

So, practically, how does this affect my day? Fewer drives means lighter bags and less shoulder pain, and quicker transfer speeds means faster transfer of files, so I now have time to actually chat to the trainees and find out what they'd really like to get out of the day (which means better training for them!).

Oh, and it means I get to actually have a coffee at the start of the day as well.

Premiere Pro Training at the World Cup

It's not often that these opportunities come along, so I was delighted to be asked to support the editors working for HBS, the host broadcaster at the International Broadcast Centre in Rio for the FIFA 2014 World Cup!

Along with fellow trainer Chris Roberts, we were responsible for providing training and workflow advice and support to the world cup editors for Adobe's range of professional video tools (Premiere Pro, Prelude, After Effects, SpeedGrade, Audition and Media Encoder).

The editors were selected because of their broadcast background and skills (not least their ability to be away from home for long periods of time!), and predominantly had FCP and AVID experience. So our task was to help them transfer their storytelling skills to the suite of Adobe applications used at the World Cup.

We also worked alongside key members of Adobe's Premiere Pro development team on site. David MacGavran, the Senior Engineering Manager, for Premiere Pro has written a great blog about his experience in Rio, and it was great to work with him and his colleagues.

I have to say a huge thanks to the staff and management at HBS, and a special mention goes out to the guys from MOOVIT, who provided essential engineering, support, coding and development on-site, including creating innovative systems to connect the EVS servers to all the Premiere Pro and After Effects edit suites, and a custom application to manage the launching of Premiere Pro project files for multiple users.

Here's a video interview Adobe filmed at the IBC Exhibition in September 2014, about my experience in Rio.

And here are some pics that hopefully give a flavour of what it was like at the International Broadcast Centre in Rio.

And yes... despite that fact that Chris and I had to provide training cover for every day during the Wolrd Cup, I did manage to escape to the beach... in this case Copacabana!


FMX 2014 Stuttgart

I'm delighted to say that I’ve been invited to run an Adobe and Red Giant editing and effects workshop at the FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Transmedia, which runs from April 22-25 2014 in Stuttgart, Germany.

I'll be presenting tips and techniques for increasing editing and effects skill level and to help you work faster in Premiere Pro CC and SpeedGrade CC, along with showcasing the brand new Red Giant Universe and the new update to Magic Bullet Looks.

Details of my session are here:

You can find out more about the fantastic program of other sessions here:

Magic Bullet Looks 2.5 at NAB, Las Vegas

I'm delighted to say that I've been invited by Red Giant to help showcase the update to their industry standard colour grading plug-in Magic Bullet Looks at the Las Vegas NAB Show.

I'll be showing off the new features of the software, as well as talking about features of their other new release Universe. Here's the presentation schedule for NAB:

Red Giant are also giving away special prizes for people who visit the booth, so come along and say hi! Booth SL3729 (Plugin Pavilion, South Lower Hall)



Grading sessions at Inter BEE 2013: Tokyo

こんにちは! I'll be demonstrating colour correction and grading techniques at this year's Interbee show in Japan in November.

I'll be on the Flashback stand 8314 in Hall 8, demonstrating Red Giant's Magic Bullet Looks, showing tips and tricks, and showing how you can suggest a mood and evoke an emotion response from your viewer, all through the use of colour! So if you're in Toyko come along, it will be great to see you! 

BulletProof Sessions at IBC: Amsterdam

During IBC this year, I'll be running multiple sessions at the SuperMeet, demonstrating the features of Red Giant's newly released footage prep and metadata logging tool BulletProof. Come along.. they've given me free goodies to give away!

Here's some more info about BulletProof: 

I've also recorded multiple free training tutorials hosted on the Red Giant site, covering how to get started in all the main sections of BulletProof: Click here for tutorials

Free film-making seminars in July 2013: Boston, New York, Atlanta

In July, I'll be showing off Red Giant's new application BulletProof, as well as showing film-making and post production technicques to help you improve the quality of your video.

Here's the info about the sessions:

Colorist and Adobe Certified Master Trainer Simon Walker will explore how colour grading techniques are used in film, and will provide practical demonstrations on how to create moods, suggest genres, and to inform the audience of the motivations of on-screen protagonists, using Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Suite of plug-ins.

He will show practical ways to improve the look of digital video, polish and enhance motion graphics sequences, as well as showcasing strategies for reducing pixelation and noise, and production techniques for making your video look as good as possible.

He’ll also demonstrate how Red Giant PluralEyes saves vital production time by automatically synchronising audio and multi-camera video in seconds, as well as revealing the exciting brand new technology BulletProof, that simplifies the tedious everyday tasks that happen on set. Bridging the gap between camera and editor, BulletProof combines backup, organization, color and delivery tasks while handling footage from multiple cameras and media cards, and Simon will show how BulletProof is a complete offload, prep and delivery solution for camera footage. 


Here's the link to sign up for the sessions in Boston, New York and Atlanta:

Red Giant's BulletProof Public Beta now released

Red Giant have released a public beta of BulletProof, their brand new
standalone application. BulletProof is a footage offload, prep and delivery
tool for video professionals that lets you backup, color, organise and
deliver great looking footage, bridging the gap between your camera and
I've recorded a Getting Started tutorial which show you how to get up and running in BulletProof. You can download the Public Beta from


FMX 2013 Stuttgart

I'm delighted to say that I’m presenting colour correction and grading techniques and workflows at FMX 2013 with Adobe and Red Giant in April 2013.

I'll also be showing details of Red Giant's new software BulletProof. Details of my sessions are here:

Visual Storytelling with Red Giant

Colour Grading with Adobe Premiere Pro, Magic Bullet Suite, & SpeedGrade

You can purchase tickets for FMX here. It promises to be an exciting lineup of 3D art and visual effects. Confirmed FMX highlights include: Cloud Atlas, Life of Pi, Skyfall, The Croods, Crysis 3. If you are there, come and say hello.


Broadcast Video Expo 2013 - London

I'm very pleased to be invited by Adobe to present for them this year at Broadcast Video Expo in London from the 26th to 28th February.

I'll be on the Adobe stand for the entire show, showing the range of video tools included in Adobe Creative Cloud. I'll also be available between sessions to answer questions and help you troubleshoot any problems you have with Premiere Pro. Please register free here if you'd like to attend. There's also a session timetable here.

Please come and say hello if you'll be attending. We will be at Stand L16 where you can come and speak to members of the Adobe team and participate in a prize draw to win a 3 month Subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.

Tutorial | Colour Correcting Motion Graphics with Magic Bullet Looks

I've recorded a new tutorial for Red Giant showing how to enhance and alter motion graphics with the colour correction plug-in Magic Bullet Looks.
Looks has some interesting tools that you can use to bring out certain details and highlight specific colours. This can be very useful when you need to make last minute tweaks to motion graphics material, and you don't have access to the original After Effects file, or you are right on deadline and need to make a quick tweak!
I'm using Premiere Pro and After Effects, but the same principles apply if you are using Final Cut Pro and Motion.